Lynn O'Brien is a fantastic singer-songwriter-pianist in the vein of Regina Spektor, with a bit of Nellie McKay and Norah Jones thrown in. Those are all very good things. She's not Russian (Regina), a British-born Broadway lead (Nellie), or the daughter of Ravi Shankar (Norah), but who needs all that when you're from East-Central Illinois, fool! Yes, Lynn is living the life right here in Champaign-Urbana/Bloomington-Normal, as a 20-year-old Music Therapy major at Illinois State University who's become a regular in the Chambana music scene over the past two years. She's made the Iron Post in Urbana her second home, where she seems to play once a month or so to quickly-growing and highly-appreciative crowds. Lynn is, rather remarkably, a self-taught musician, having only started formal training last year. She evidently makes one hell of a teacher, cause homegirl can play the piano--and, she's just picked up the guitar as well. To top it all off, her voice is what really sets her apart. Her debut album, Umbrella, which was recorded/produced/mastered/etc. at Dubwax in Urbana and released in September 2006, features ten other musicians playing alongside Lynn, including her family members. The fully orchestrated songs on the album provide lovely additions and contrasts to the solo work that Lynn often does in concert, where she tinkles the ivories, lays down beautiful and very interesting vocals, asks the audience to sing along, and basically makes everyone in the room fall in love with her--all with the greatest of ease, and seemingly without a care in the world.
Following are two tracks from Umbrella. Lynn writes some great, more "serious" ballads, often jazz-tinged, but I'm particular to her more quirky fun stuff, such as "Italy", below. These songs have quickly become favorites in la maison du Tete.
Lynn O'Brien - "Italy" [MP3 (in new window)]
And here is perhaps the most delightful song ever written, "All My Troubles are Bubbles". Props to Pops O'Brien for playing the guitar and the rest of the O'Brien family for vocalizing on this wee bit of happiness.
Lynn O'Brien - "All My Troubles are Bubbles" [MP3 (in new window)]
Check out Lynn's MySpace page (link below) for upcoming concerts, including an appearance at The Beat Kitchen in Chicago on May 27th.
Here are two newspaper articles with more info on Ms. O'Brien:
"Student uses voice to express feelings, help others", The Daily Vidette (ISU student newspaper)
"The one thing ISU has that U of I doesn't", Buzz Magazine (weekly UIUC student magazine)
Below: Lynn O'Brien - "The Recycling Song" [live video; not taken by La Tete]
Official Site (in development) | Buy the Album (contact Lynn via her website)
MySpace (listen to "Company" first)